CBS Sports Nabs U.S. TV Rights to New 3-on-3 Pro Hockey League

New York Islanders Hockey - P 2012
Getty Images

New York Islanders Hockey - P 2012

3ICE, to begin play in June 2021, is the latest TV sport to take on a faster, cut-down format to stay relevant in the digital age.

CBS Sports has picked up the U.S. TV rights to 3ICE, a three-on-three professional ice hockey league in North America set to launch in June 2021.

The new league, created by E.J. Johnston, son of former pro hockey goalie and coach Ed Johnston and NHL veteran Craig Patrick, will also air on Canada's TSN sports channel and its Quebec counterpart RDS. And the 3ICE championship game will air on the CBS TV network.

3ICE is the latest TV sport after football, cricket and Formula One to adopt a faster, cut-down format to remain relevant amid changing demographics in the digital age. Fewer players playing hockey tends to produce more open ice and goal scoring.

"No penalties, only penalty shots. No long intermissions or stoppage in play for video reviews. Just pure excitement," Patrick, who is also commissioner of 3ICE, said in a statement on Monday.

The NHL, which is not tied to 3ICE, has a 5-on-5 format, except when players are sent to the penalty box, and a five-minute, 3-on-3 overtime format followed by a shootout if needed. 3ICE, operating independent of the NHL, will feature seven games in a single-elimination format, with a champion to be crowned at each of nine planned stops across North America.

The league will comprise eight teams of seven players each, and a head coach. All teams will visit each tour city and play in all 60 games during each summer season taking place when the NHL is on a break.